Ministers escape censure over normalisation

 Minister of Tourism Amel Karboul: quizzed

An anti-normalisation ‘fail’ in Tunisia as the country puts the economy before ideology.The Global Post reports:

Censure motions against two Tunisian ministers accused of promoting
“normalisation” with Israel were withdrawn late Friday, just before
deputies in the Islamist-dominated parliament were to vote on them.

The
motions were filed last month against Tourism Minister Amel Karboul and
Deputy Interior Minister for Security Ridha Sfar, with documents
purporting to show that the latter gave written authorisation for
Israeli tourists to enter Tunisia earlier this year.

Karboul was also accused of receiving an Israeli delegation.

It is an open secret that Israelis have been visiting Tunisia for years on the quiet.

And
the parliamentary debate came just a week ahead of an annual pilgrimage
that draws Jews from around the world to Tunisia’s ancient Ghriba
synagogue.

A vote had been expected in the evening but “the two
motions of censure have been withdrawn”, assembly president Mustapha Ben
Jaafar announced to the assembled deputies.

“It was not our
intention to attack the ministers. We wished to say that the
normalisation of ties with Israel in a red line,” explained centrist
deputy Iyed Dahmani, an avid supporter of the motions just hours
earlier.

Leftist deputy Faycel Jadlaoui said the decision not to
vote on the motions was due to the responses of the two ministers and
the fact that half of the 80 signatories to the motion had withdrawn
their support.

However, the news came as a surprise to some deputies in the chamber and led to heated exchanges.

– ‘We do not deal with Israel’ –

Karboul
denied receiving an Israeli delegation. She also defended her comments
supporting the entry of tourists regardless of nationality, to boost a
key sector of the Tunisian economy that was battered by the turbulence
that followed the 2011 revolution.

And Sfar defended himself
against charges of promoting normalisation with Israel, saying he merely
followed procedures that have been in force for years.

“The case
is purely administrative… We do not deal with Israeli papers,” Sfar
said, explaining that the tourists coming from the Jewish state had been
issued with Tunisian passes, because Tunis does not recognise Israeli
passports.

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Minister tries to defuse passport row

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